Seymourpowell designs Morph – a concept economy seat for airline travel

Seymourpowell has designed a concept economy seat for airline travel that has been inspired by difference, new materials and flexibility. Called Morph, the seat has been designed to offer passengers choice over the amount of space they pay for and to provide a better fit for more people.

Seymourpowell’s concept provides an alternative to the standard economy seat, which ergonomically has been designed for everyone by averaging the sizes of the largest and smallest percentiles to a point where it fits relatively few people properly. Morph is still a standard product, but it can adapt to the changing needs of the passenger.


Morph uses smart architecture to adjust both the width of the seat, and individually control seat pan height and seat pan depth to suit varying sizes of passenger. This creates a scalable value offer for airlines, allowing them to arrange the economy cabin by people’s willingness and ability to pay for space, blurring the boundaries between the classes.

The concept seat works by replacing traditional foam pads with a fabric that is stretched across the width of three seats, around a frame and over formers. One piece of fabric is used for the seat back and one is used for the seat base. The fabric is clamped down by the armrests and the upper dividers to form three individual hammock seats.

By moving the formers and pushing them through the fabric we can control the recline and a large range of ergonomic adjustments, morphing the fabric to provide a tailored fit and greater comfort.

As the recline happens within the soft furnishings, the solid seat back does not move. The semantics of the architecture and visual cues indicate that the back of the seat belongs to the passenger facing it. Passengers can extend the width of their armrests over their own lap, increasing that feeling of independence and control over their own space.

As just one sheet of fabric is used across three seats, the dividers can be moved laterally and then clamped down in a different position and so adjusting the width of each individual seat. Families travelling together can tailor their seats according to size, for example a Mum and Dad with an infant could pre-book a large, medium and a small space.

The mechanism and formers move too, so the comfort, recline and adjustability are all maintained. A properly fitted seat is not only more comfortable, but safer and it reduces health risks.

Seymourpowell head of transport, Jeremy White says, “Passengers who can afford premium, business or first class have a choice and hence some control over their own experience. For those who travel economy, there is a very limited choice of alternatives. Morph is a solution – a standard product that meets the needs of lots of different kinds of people.

“A passenger’s size is only one factor; Morph takes into account how people feel along with their emotional needs. The young female traveling alone, a mother nursing a child, an elderly or less abled passenger, or a family traveling together, all have specific needs; some desire more privacy or security, some are more vulnerable and require greater assistance, whilst others only need entertainment. These needs change too, depending on the time of day, the length of the flight and the reason behind the journey. On the way out, the passenger may need to work, whilst on the way home they may want to relax or sleep. Yet we are all shoehorned into the exact same format, one that has remained unchanged for years.”

Economically speaking, this is a revolutionary proposition for travellers. Smaller travellers or children could buy a space and a seat fitted specifically for them, and a cheaper ticket. They could sell or trade their inches to larger passengers who want more space, the business traveller prepared to pay a bit more so he can work, or the mother nursing her child who wants more privacy.

The premise is that if the economy seat could adapt to differing people’s size then comfort levels could increase without a reduction in capacity.

In addition to this, the ability to move the divisions laterally, adjusting the width of the seat whilst maintaining recline and comfort allows airlines to change a row of three into a row of two, moving quickly from a high density economy ticket, to a lower density, more premium ticket.

For the airline this creates a scalable value offer, and for the passenger there is added value by having a choice. They no longer need to buy a seat, they can now buy space, gaining control over their experience in a seat that fits them with individual, tailored comfort control.

For more information contact the Seymourpowell PR Team.

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